A while ago I reviewed Hernö Swedish Excellence Gin, and without exaggeration it’s one of my favourite new spirit acquaintances so far this year. Shortly afterwards they released a navy strength version as well – really good news, of course. Luckily, I managed to procure a bottle of this very limited and sought after stuff, but since I’ve been travelling a lot the last couple of weeks I haven’t found the time to write down my thoughts about it… until now. In the meantime, both Swedish Excellence and Navy Strength did really well at this year’s Gin Masters – and I’m not surprised!
Basically, Swedish Excellence and Navy Strength derive from the same distillate, and just diluted to different ABVs. Nevertheless, they are actually quite different from each other.
Nose: Not as intense as I imagined it to be, still a lot going on with an emphasis on the floral elements – with juniper and coriander fighting for my attention, to hints of citrus peel, a slight sweetness and a healthy dose of pinetree – bringing back pleasant memories from my childhood summers in northern Sweden. Mouth: Somewhat spicier and “creamier” than Swedish Excellence with a lingering, citrusy afterburn. What puzzles me is that the botanicals, yet almost perfectly balanced, for some reason has maybe too prominent notes of cardamom before fading out into the underlying complex bitterness, with the juniper a bit subdued. Definitely not only a bad thing, I just didn’t expect it since I didn’t experience anything like that with Swedish Excellence. I wish I had some left so I could compare them side by side… Anyway, on its own Hernö Navy Strength is a beautifully crafted organic high-proof gin, with a rather assertive floral flavour profile which just begs to be used in cocktails.
|Gin & Tonic #1|
First I tried it in a Gin & Tonic (50 ml Hernö Navy Strength, 150 ml Q Tonic, lemon wheel) – it was serviceable but I suspected that the tonic didn’t complement the gin properly so I did another one (50 ml Hernö Navy Strength, 150 ml Schweppes Indian Tonic, lemon wheel) and now it was much better. The extra ABV makes for a quite straightforward drink with the Schweppes tonic adding just the right amount of sweet, bitter and refreshing qualities to make the gin shine.
|Gin & Tonic #2|
Next up, the modern classic Jasmine by Paul Harrington (45 ml Hernö Navy Strength, 22,5 ml lemon juice, 7,5 ml Campari, 7,5 ml Cointreau) which normally is a delicous cocktail but I think that the ABV and the flavour profile of the gin didn’t really work well with the Campari so for this drink I’d choose a more subtle gin.
Another compulsory cocktail to make is of course the Negroni. Once again I
made two different versions, one with a common Italian vermouth and another with a more unusual French equivalent (30 ml Hernö Navy Strength, 30 ml Martini Rosso/Byrrh, 30 ml Campari, orange zest) – both equally delicious but in slightly different ways. The common denominator is that the combination of fortified wine and Campari really complements the floral complexity and strength of the gin in the best possible way – wow, highly recommended!
Last but not least, I decided to pair the gin with one of my favourite liqueurs in a French Gimlet (60 ml Hernö Navy Strength, 30 ml St-Germain, 15 ml lime juice, lime twist) and that’s another winner. The floral notes of the gin and liqueur seem to be made for each other, and the combination even accentuates the gin’s prominent presence of cardamom mentioned earlier – in a good way of course.
Härnö Navy Strength is a truly delicious and powerful gin with a well balanced botanical complexity, which of course sometimes can be too much for certain cocktails. Maybe it’s not as versatile in cocktails as for example Plymouth Navy Strength, but it’s even more rewarding using Hernö Navy Strength and all these intense flavours really find their place in a drink – like in the Negroni and French Gimlet. Highly recommended, but use with caution.